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A Little Screen Time Is Okay, but Please Make Sure Your Child Still Remains Active
  • Many studies have discussed the adverse effects of too much screen time on young children, but a new review claims that certain kinds of content can be helpful for your growing tot.

    The report, which was published in JAMA Pediatrics, found that there are differences in the effects of various uses of screen time. Passive screen time, or screen time that does not require a child to engage in physical activity or problem-solving, has more of a negative effect than active screen time, or screen time that involves physical activity and encourages a child to move around or answer problems.

    The study looked at the academic achievements of 106,000 children and adolescents between four and 18 years old and compared these with the amount of time the children spent engaged in screen time, such as by watching TV or playing video games.

    The researchers found no link between overall screen time and an average child’s school performance. However, when the different types of screen time were broken down, the researchers discovered that “time spent on television viewing and video games was associated with poorer academic achievement,” CNN reports.

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    Motherly writes that passively watching TV negatively impacted a child’s composite academic scores and language and math abilities. Passively playing video games also proved similar effects. On the other hand, educational media and TV shows that encourage children to participate in problem-solving or move their bodies can benefit them.

    What does this mean? The authors of the study encourage parents to be careful about what kind of media they expose their kids to. In its 2016 guidelines on screen time for children, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that parents browse organizations that provide reviews about various apps and programs for kids, such as Common Sense Media and Sesame Workshop.


    Interacting with your child while she engages in screen time is another way to keep her active. Make it a point to talk to her about what she is watching or even play with her so that her mind and body are kept stimulated.

    Dr. Jenny Radesky, a pediatrician who was the lead author of the AAP’s 2016 guidelines on screen time, tells CNN, “Both TV and video games can have a social component — when you play or watch with someone else — and this can be a positive way that family members or peers engage with each other — especially if it is intellectually stimulating content or has positive social messages.”

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    Lastly, keep your child’s screen use to a minimum by creating screen-free zones and times in your household. An example of a screen-free zone can be your dining table so that during meals, your family can interact with one another while eating.

    Meanwhile, an example of screen-free time can be an hour before bedtime. Growing kids need a lot of sleep, and the blue light emanating from electronic devices can make it harder for your child to fall asleep and even disrupt its quality.

    The findings of this study prove that it is okay for kids to get some screen time now and then. However, remember that for your child to experience the benefits of media, moderation is key.

    Too much screen time can be a dilemma for both kids and their parents. For ideas on how to lessen screen time for your whole family, click here.

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